Difference between Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are two terms that are often used interchangeably, which makes people believe that they are the same. However, that’s not the case. Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are two different terms with different meanings.

SEO refers to the practices adopted to improve the search engine ranking for a website to increase website traffic. On the other hand, SEM refers to online marketing carried out to increase the visibility of a website through advertising and search engine optimization. SEO is thus a part of SEM. Let’s take a look at SEO and SEM more comprehensively to understand the difference more clearly.

Search Engine Optimization

The algorithms of Google continuously change. The discipline and industry of search engine optimization thus continues evolves to keep up with the changing algorithms. However, the basics of SEO haven’t changed. SEO basically includes on-page activities and off-page activities to optimize a website’s search engine ranking.  

Optimizing meta data, writing high quality and optimized content that incorporates relevant keywords, creating well-formatted and simple URLs with keywords, optimizing website speed and optimizing the website for mobile are essentials of on-page SEO. Off-page SEO involves link building to obtain inbound links and increasing traffic coming to a website from different social media sites.

Mostly search engine optimization is focused on creating high-quality and valuable content that is helpful for the audience or solves their problems. Over time, your SEO efforts improve your ranking and increase organic traffic which ultimately means more conversions.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing involves earning visibility for the website with the help of paid advertisement on Google, other search engines or social media platforms. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisement is the most common example of paid advertisement. PPC allows a business to target customers through relevant keywords and ad copy that matches the search queries of their target audience. 

Google AdWords is mostly used to host ads. Some essential activities required for successful search engine marketing through the Google AdWords include: setting a budget, launching campaigns that target a specific audience, creating ads with target keywords, writing ad copy using relevant keywords and monitoring metrics.

Stick with SEO

Supporters of SEM claim that search engine marketing is better than SEO. However, the truth is SEO is a prerequisite for an effective SEM. By focusing on SEO, you can lay a strong foundation for search engine marketing through creating high-quality content that prospects find helpful. If you fail to optimize your website and blog content for search engines, your SEM campaign won’t provide you the desired result because of poor quality. Therefore, we suggest that you first focus on optimizing your website through SEO. Once you have optimized your website, you can step up your game by using SEM to promote your business and reach a wider audience through targeted ads.